The world's poorest prophet, but a coaching genius with a rare talent for consistently winning national championships.
That's the University of Kentucky's fabulous cage mentor Adolph Rupp who this year celebrates his Silver Anniversary at the helm of Wildcat basketball with an incomparable career winning average of 85.6 percent for 496 victories out of 578 starts.
Amazing as his coaching success has been, the usually astute Baron Rupp found himself on the losing end as a prophet last season. The Wildcats of 1954 made a clean sweep through a 25-game schedule and disproved their coach's prophecy of some years ago that "no major school playing a major schedule can go through a season undefeated."
The "impossible" feat of last year's Kentucky team in becoming the biggest-winning, perfect-record unit of all time climaxed an un-paralled honor roll of coaching successes that have stamped Rupp as the nation's most winning cage mentor. In the 24 years he has been at Kentucky, he's won the Southeastern Conference title 15 times, the NCAA Tournament championship three times, and the National Invitation Tournament once as well as Olympic Trials collegiate bracket laurels and a nominal world's championship through participation with the AAU Phillips Oilers as the USA entry in the 1948 Olympic Games. Coach Rupp is the first coach to guide his teams to three NCAA and one NIT titles.
Besides the distinction of an even 100 victories against only 21 defeats covering action in 21 national classics (NCAA, NIT, UK Invitational and Sugar Bowl Tournament) plus 21 conference meets and the '48 Olympics, Rupp has guided his Wildcat teams to national championships in the Associated Press Poll four times in the last six years and produced no less than 24 All-Americans.
Furthermore, the UK mentor goes into the current season in possession of another record that no other coach or school comes even close to threatening—124 consecutive wins on the home floor. No Rupp-coached Kentucky team has been beaten at home since Ohio State turned the trick on Jan. 2, 1943—approximately twelve years ago!
Baron Rupp's capable right hand man is Harry Lancaster. As the first full-time assistant basketball coach in Kentucky's history and one of the few aides of this type in the country, he is in charge of convincing the best schoolboy cagers to cast their lot with the Wildcats and is responsible for their development as yearlings once they are in the Kentucky stable. He also handles the gruelling assignment of scouting future opponents. The success that he has shown in his endeavors is reflected in Kentucky's phenomenal success as a team respected and feared the world over. Coach Rupp is the first to give his assistant much credit for past developments, particularly the coaching assistance that Lancaster provided last season. Coach Lancaster, a native of Paris, Ky., and graduate of Georgetown College, came to Kentucky in 1942. A highlight of his career came in the summer of 1951 when he served the U. S. State Department in Greece as a consultant to the Greek Basketball Federation.